Yorkshire were forced to settle for a runners-up finish in Division Two despite claiming a comprehensive 239-run victory over Essex on the final day at Chelmsford.
The emphatic victory proved futile in terms of the title race as Derbyshire's six-wicket triumph over Hampshire handed them the Championship by virtue of more wins over the course of the season.
Essex resumed the final day with their backs firmly against the wall on 28-2 in pursuit of an unlikely winning target of 388 and were swiftly skittled for just 148.
Owais Shah (71no) was the only Essex batsman to enjoy any success against a pumped up Yorkshire attack, with the eight remaining wickets falling in 40.5 overs.
Azeem Rafiq recorded career-best figures of 5-50 to cap a man-of-the-match display which also saw him score 128 runs in the match, while pace bowler Steve Patterson chipped in with 4-34.
The Tykes, playing their first full season under Australian coach Jason Gillespie, finished the 16-game campaign unbeaten but will be rueing a weather-interrupted summer which left them with 11 draws.
Yorkshire have the chance to claim the LV= County Championship Division Two title after their promotion to Division One was confirmed on day three of their season finale at Essex.
Glamorgan's win against Kent inside three days means Yorkshire will head into the final day at Chelmsford battling with long-time leaders Derbyshire for the title.
Yorkshire will take the crown if they win and Derbyshire fail to pick up victory at home to Hampshire.
Their first task is to bowl Essex out a second time after leaving them an unlikely winning target of 388.
Yorkshire declared their second innings on 252-8 with Adam Lyth making 51, Anthony McGrath striking 68 and Azeem Rafiq hitting an unbeaten 75.
By the close, Essex had already lost openers Jaik Mickleburgh and Tom Westley in moving to 28-2 and face an uphill task to save the game on the final day.
Yorkshire's bowlers kept their side on course for promotion by dismissing Essex for 177 on day two of their crucial clash at Chelmsford.
After securing a third batting point before they were bowled out for 312 in their first innings, the White Rose county claimed three bowling points as they rolled Essex over cheaply to earn a lead of 135.
Seamer Moin Ashraf claimed 4-36 and spinner Azeem Rafiq weighed in with 3-65 to help put the Tykes in pole position to seal their return to the top flight.
Only Ryan ten Doeschate offered any real resistance for the hosts, the Dutch all-rounder hitting two sixes and six fours to make 62 from 114 deliveries before he holed out off the bowling of Rafiq.
The only disappointment for Yorkshire was the loss of three late wickets before the close of play, meaning they lurched to 44-3 by stumps.
Graham Napier dismissed Joe Root, Phil Jaques and Andrew Gale cheaply -- earlier in the day the seamer had completed his seventh five-wicket haul by claiming the final two Yorkshire wickets in the morning session.
A rearguard 49 not out from Azeem Rafiq helped promotion-chasing Yorkshire claw their way to 284-8 against Essex on day one of their season- closing LV= County Championship clash at Chelmsford.
Yorkshire won the toss and chose to bat - and made steady progress in the morning despite the early loss of Joe Root for a duck.
Adam Lyth (63) was the star of the show at the top of the order but when Phil Jaques (38) became Graham Napier's third victim, Essex enjoyed a purple patch with the ball.
Andrew Gale, Gary Ballance and Anthony McGrath all departed cheaply - and Essex looked set to seize the initiative as the visitors stuttered to 166-6.
But Rafiq and Ryan Sidebottom launched a spirited eighth-wicket riposte - putting on 60 before the latter departed for 37 to a Tom Craddock caught-and-bowled.
Yorkshire are involved in a three-way battle for the two promotion places with Derbyshire and Kent, with just six points separating the top three at the start of the final round of matches.